They say ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’. Some say there are actually some things you should sweat out, bi-weekly if possible. In a world where our exposure to toxins seems undisputed and on the rise, our ability to adequately detox seems more important than ever. Just stepping outside we are exposed to a plethora of industrial chemicals, heavy metals and CO2- and that’s just from the air we breathe. Should you choose to stay indoors you are no doubt subject to the off gassing of various elements in your immediate environment. Off-gassing is the slow and steady release of chemicals from the stuff we bring into our homes, or that our homes are actually made of. Particle board and plywood laced with formaldehyde. Electronics, beds and carpets covered with flame retardant. EMFs, cell phones and omnipresent wi-fi. Modern houses build for tighter energy efficiency ensure these chemicals get trapped and build up inside. The bombardment of blue light and positive ions from computer screens. Maybe a little mould problem in the basement? Then mycotoxins may be lurking and giving you fatigue and brain fog. Making dinner? Let’s use the microwave and maybe a non-stick Teflon pan. Hormones and antibiotics in conventional dairy, meat and poultry. GMO food. Tap water with fluoride. Add to that the known nasties contained in our beauty products (parabens, plastics, phthalates, fragrance, etc) that we apply, spritz, lather and moisturize with on a daily or even hourly basis. Nail polish remover. Lipstick with lead. Cosmetics housed in plastic containers. Dryer sheets. Febreeze for the bathroom. Simply through the process of eating, drinking, breathing and day to day life the average person accumulates differing amount of poisons, parasites, germs, chemicals, pesticides, mucus and heavy metals that is difficult to ignore. If that weren’t enough, according to Einstein we are slowly being crushed by an inhospitable atmosphere. I think you get the idea. So the question is how can we reduce our toxic load and give our filtration organs (ie. liver) a well-deserved break? How can we assist the four channels of elimination: defecation (colon), urination (kidneys), respiration (lungs) and perspiration (skin). The first three we can accomplish easily enough- although still with not enough frequency for the adequate elimination of toxins. But the question is: how often do you sweat? If you are a hot yoga/gym rat who loves cardio you may also have no issues with adequate perspiration. If you are Finnish or Japanese you are already familiar with the tradition of ‘sweating it out’ in a sauna. In North America, saunas are something you find in the back corner of your local gym but that you never seem to make time for. At HigherDOSE in NYC, founders Lauren Berlingeri and Katie Kaps are transforming the sauna experience, including what and how much we sweat.
HigherDOSE is all about sweating and detoxing with not just any heat source but with Infrared heat. Many health and beauty seekers as well as the chronically ill already know infrared as those long, healing waves of light from the sun that are what make us feel warm when we sit outside on a sunny day. Those waves heat us up from the inside out and confer amazing health benefits. Unlike the shorter waves that come from the sun, longer infrared rays are very safe (they were used in hospitals in Japan in the 1950’s to keep newborn babies warm) and indeed very healing. Lauren and Katie encourage people to come in and ‘get high’; get high, that is, on increased dopamine and serotonin and decreased cortisol. Enhanced relaxation and calorie burn (a single session can burn up to 600 calories), pain relief (it’s great for joints and muscle recovery), oxygenation of the blood and improved cell health, improved skin health and tone (infrared stimulates collagen and improves overall skin tone) and many more benefits, too innumerable to count. We can attest that the benefits for the skin alone are amazing and one look at the glow on Lauren and Katie will silence all detractors and skeptics. But beauty aside, perhaps the most important benefits of infrared are it’s ability to allow us to detox, to sweat out said toxins and help us to stay clean and disease free, right down to the cellular level. It is estimated that in an infrared sauna you sweat out a larger array and quantity of toxins: 20% toxins versus 3% in traditional saunas. This makes the detoxifying effect of infrared far greater and valuable in this day and age. We recently spoke with Lauren and Katie about all things infrared and why it should be everyone’s new addiction.
- How did both of you meet and how did HigherDOSE come about?
We met almost two years ago through a mutual friend. Lauren had just left a startup called Aloha and was inspired to bring infrared to health/fitness based on what she learned from doctors/health experts while working there. Part of her job was to seek out health trends, etc. and infrared kept popping up. Once she experienced the benefits of infrared herself she knew it was going to be the next big thing in the health and wellness space. Katie had recently left an executive role at Tough Mudder and was consulting for a detox center. After Lauren told Katie about her idea, she tried an infrared sauna session and was immediately “hooked” and gung-ho to launch the company with Lauren. Our backgrounds are very complimentary (Lauren as a nutritionist/health coach; Katie as a financier/entrepreneur), so we make a great team. We started off by installing infrared heating systems in yoga studios (which was Lauren’s original vision). Along the way, we became convinced New York needed a spa dedicated to infrared saunas since 1) they’re in love with the product, 2) New Yorkers are so stressed and need to chill, and 3) because these types of places are doing well on the West Coast. Its been non stop since then and we are now opening our fourth location in a few months!
- The benefits of infrared sauna read like a laundry list. Which particular aspects of infrared sauna use do you wish people knew about most?
Lauren: The skin benefits! Infrared is amazing for your skin because it increases circulation and leaves you glowing after a session. It also lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) which is main culprit for acne/breakouts. Moreover, the red LED light in our saunas boosts collagen production while the blue LED light kills acne-causing bacteria. Infrared is also great for athletes because it increases circulation to the muscles which is great for recovery! Katie: I’m a big fan of infrared’s mood boosting properties. Because the infrared sauna lowers cortisol and increases serotonin, you come out feeling amazing. Infrared is such a big mood booster that it’s used to treat addiction.
- What exactly is the protocol for sauna use in terms of preparation, recommended ‘dose’, and after care?
Lauren: Drink lots of water beforehand! I always love to take an ice cold shower after a session and give myself enough time afterwards to relax and enjoy the lightness/carefree vibe I get from a session. Katie: Make sure not to tax yourself too much before a session. Remember that it’s like a workout, so I recommend going to HigherDOSE on one of your non-workout days.
- We are aware that Lady Gaga is a fan of HigherDOSE. Any other celebrity/model sightings and can you share with us a story of anyone with a chronic condition that has claimed infrared sauna has ‘saved’ them?
Absolutely. Michelle Williams, Cindy Crawford, Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow are big fans. We have Lyme patients who have said that Infrared has changed their lives and how they rely on HigherDOSE to get through the day.
- In the pursuit of the Beauty Arcana, please give us your top five wellness secrets, for beauty inside and out.
- staying hydrated
- my version of bulletproof coffee (coconut oil, mct oil, cashew butter blended with lions mane mushroom and coffee)
- tabata exercises
- ketogenic diet
- cryo therapy
- my treadmill desk